Breanna DeGroot is a master’s student in biological science at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. She is studying the movement and habitat of spotted eagle rays throughout Florida.
Rachel Skubel is Ph.D. student in environmental science and policy at the University of Miami. For her dissertation, she is studying the impacts of climate change on sharks and coastal communities. To do so, she is combining research methods from the natural and social sciences.
Amanda Macek is a master’s student in marine science at Jacksonville University. She is investigating how small anatomical changes in various commercially available circle hooks affect where sharks are hooked, the injuries they sustain, hook removal and related mortality.
Jennifer Loch is pursuing a Ph.D. in conservation biology at the University of Central Florida. She is assessing how sportfish like snapper, seatrout and snook respond to habitat restoration in the Indian River Lagoon. She hopes to shed light on how restoration can improve fisheries.
Susana Hervas Avila is a Ph.D. student in the fisheries and aquatic sciences program within the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation. Her dissertation is focused on understanding the various stakeholder perspectives of the red snapper fishery conflict in the Gulf of Mexico.
Alyssa Andres is a Ph.D. student in marine science at the University of South Florida. She is investigating how sharks respond to climate change and some of the ecological consequences of those responses.
2018 Aylesworth Scholars
Bryan Keller is pursuing a Ph.D. in biological oceanography at Florida State University. He is studying the spatial ecology and seasonal migrations of coastal sharks. Before beginning his Ph.D. program, the certified scuba diver worked as a scientific director at Global Eco Adventures, and as a team member for the Bimini Biological Field Station in the Bahamas. After completing his Ph.D., he hopes to secure a post-doctoral position with a state agency to conduct fishery-based research.
James Conrad is a Ph.D. student studying biology at the University of South Florida. He is studying why the human pathogen Vibrio vulnificus, which is found in warm coastal waters and is known to accumulate in shellfish, is capable of causing disease in some environments at certain times of the years, but not others. To do this, he is researching whether modifications to the genetic material of the organism contribute to the harmfulness of Vibrio, which is sometimes mistakenly referred to as “flesh-eating bacteria.”
2018 Florida Outdoor Writers Association Scholars
Marwan Alenezi is a graduate student in journalism at the University of Miami School of Communication. He videos and photographs for the Miami Herald Neighbors section, and has produced a film documentary on invasive species in Florida. In addition to English he speaks Spanish and Arabic, and is a certified PADI dive master. He received the University of Miami Outstanding graduate student award in journalism and media management.
Emily Mavrakis is an undergraduate journalism major at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. She was the first science writer intern at the Florida Museum of Natural History and is currently interning at the Gainesville Sun. Her career goal is to become an environmental reporter upon graduation. She is currently working on a story that maps and displays how Alachua County residents use the county’s extensive network of state park trails so that residents can better use and enjoy these valuable resources.
2018 Florida Sea Grant Scholars
Alexis Sturm is a Ph.D. student studying integrative biology at the Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. For her dissertation research, she is assessing the level of connectivity among populations of corals in Cuba and the Florida Keys. She does this by investigating whether the coral populations are genetically similar, through the sampling and extraction of DNA.
Kendal Jackson is a Ph.D. student studying applied anthropology at the University of South Florida. For his dissertation, he is studying fossilized pollen grains in soils along Florida’s Gulf coast to better understand how ancient coastal environments have changed over time.
Kwanmok Kim is a Ph.D. student studying interdisciplinary ecology at the University of Florida School of Natural Resources and Environment. For his research, he is studying the spaces between oyster clusters, which are referred to as interstitial spaces in scientific literature. These spaces are important refuge for prey species such as crabs. The shapes and sizes of these interstitial spaces are crucial to understanding species interaction in the ecosystem.
Jamila Roth is pursuing her Ph.D. in interdisciplinary ecology at the University of Florida School of Natural Resources and Environment. For her dissertation, she is studying how human-related stressors, such as increased phosphorous from sewage and agriculture, as well as warming temperatures, affect seagrasses and the animals that depend on them.
2018 Knauss Marine Policy Fellows
Stacy Aguilera recently graduated from the University of Miami where she earned a Ph.D. in ecosystem science and policy. Her dissertation research focused on social and ecological factors contributing to positive outcomes in coastal pelagic fisheries. Aguilera’s previous experience in science policy includes participating in a two-week immersion at the American Meteorological Society Summer Policy Colloquium and by leading a small-scale fisheries working group at the Center for Oceans Solutions in Monterey California. During her year in Washington, D.C. she will be working with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Samantha Dowdell is a recent graduate of the University of Miami where she earned her master’s degree in marine affairs and policy. Her thesis research focused on helping policymakers and stakeholders better understand industries in Miami-Dade County that depend on a healthy Biscayne Bay. Dowdell has gained experience with international issues through her time studying water resource law and policy in Vietnam and China. While there, she learned about the countries’ differing legal systems and methods of water resource management. She has also interned for the Conservation Law Foundation and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. She will spend 2018 working at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration headquarters in the Office of International Affairs in the Department of Commerce building.
Danielle Dodge is a recent graduate of Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute where she earned a master’s degree in biology. For her thesis research, she used DNA fingerprinting to better understand coral reef health and dynamics for incorporation into better management strategies. The Women Divers Hall of Fame grantee has also interned with Reef Relief in Key West and served as a research assistant for HBOI’s Coral Molecular Ecology Research Lab, the University of Delaware Algal Physiology Research Group, and the Office of the Delaware State Climatologist. For her Knauss Fellowship, she will be working for the National Science Foundation’s Ocean Sciences Division as an ocean policy fellow.
Daniel Wolfe is a recent graduate of the Florida State University College of Law, where he earned a J.D. with a focus on environmental law. Wolfe has served as the editor-in-chief for the Journal of Land Use and Environmental Law, and a law clerk for both the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Appeals Board and NOAA’s Office of General Counsel. He will spend his fellowship working in the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Office of Aquaculture.
Nature Coast Biological Station Scholar
Hannah Brown is a Ph.D. student studying interdisciplinary ecology at the University of Florida. Her dissertation research is focused on oyster restoration projects along the Gulf Coast and how various stakeholders involved in those projects communicate and network. She says the goal of her project is to assess how the knowledge about restoration projects, held by oyster growers, coastal managers and scientists, is shared between groups to make recommendations for future efforts.